Watch The Smile Perform Seven Unreleased Songs Live

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In the world of Radiohead, songs are often born at a chilling pace.

Take “Burn the Witch”. According producer Nigel Godrichthey first started working on this electro-orchestral jackhammer towards “the end of [2000’s] Child A“, and the group’s later teasing – in AMA Reddit and scrapbook artGoing through interviews and online newspaper articlessame on the scene — gave the track, if it really existed, the aura of a relic. For those who had followed, it was surreal, almost intimidatingto finally hear the finished product on 2016’s A moon-shaped swimming pool. The stakes seemed, um, rather high!

But The Smile — the main creators of Radiohead, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, with drummer Tom Skinner — don’t seem plagued by the quest for perfection. Their debut LP, May’s A light to attract attention, is often structurally complex, full of delicate time signatures and ever-changing grooves; but the vibe is looser and less fussy than a typical Radiohead record – even, perhaps ironically, more spontaneous. Further proof: during their European tour behind this album, The Smile have already debuted with six new songs in concert.

Add a live staple that (beyond all conventional logic) didn’t Attentionsome intriguing soundchecks and two studio excerpts used in the Peaky Blinders series finale, and it looks like they already have enough material for a follow-up.

While we wait for a new announcement – ​​and hopefully more new songs on their North American tour – let’s dig through everything in the Smile Pile.

“Just Eyes and Mouth”

The biggest musical injustice of 2022 is Smile’s removal of “Just Eyes and Mouth” from their still phenomenal debut. As you can tell by perusing the many complaints on Twitter and Reddit, fans had grown quite attached to the song – one of eight unveiled during the band’s first performance in June 2021, during the Glastonbury Live at Worthy Farm. It’s one of their most haunting tracks, Yorke wrapping a meandering melody around his own Fender Rhodes, Skinner’s funky drumming and Greenwood’s jaw-dropping guitar hammers. Nobody knows why he missed the cut on the album, but it’s obvious how much they love him – on stage he became their encore anchor, prompting Yorke to go wild with dance moves adorably silly.

First performance: May 22, 2021
Most recent performances: July 20, 2022
Total performance (so far): 36

“People on the Balconies”

Launched at a mid-May show in Croatia, “People on Balconies” is the lightest and most bouncy of the unreleased crop – Yorke plays a soulful bass line that wanders around the neck, and Greenwood keeps the fairly simple things on the piano. But the arrangement is subtly bizarre: full of changes in feel and time signature, culminating in a fusion-like drum pattern. “One of the things I remember about the pandemic was in Italy, all these people in apartments, they didn’t let them out… at all,” Yorke said on stage during a a show, presenting the song. “People stuck in apartments, they were walking on their balconies and talking to each other and starting to sing. And that really stuck with me. So I decided to write a song without talking about that at all.”

First performance: May 16, 2022
Most recent performances: July 11, 2022
Total performance (so far): 15

“Laughing Bodies”

In 2006, Radiohead briefly rehearsed a song called “Bodies Laughing”, even adding it to their jam blackboard current ideas. But it never saw the light of day: “Yeah, we never really got together”, guitarist Ed O’Brien told a fan two years later. “It’s kind of a Brazilian bossa nova…” To the surprise of die-hard fans, The Smile debuted a track with the same title at a May show in Berlin – but Yorke’s intro ( “Yesterday we wrote another new song”) challenges the timeline. Is this a new arrangement of the old castaway? Is it something else entirely? Yorke is known for reviving old tracks: Radiohead once played a rabid rocker named “Counter”, only to release a dreamer, totally unrelated “Counter” on 2007 In the rainbows. Adding to the hilarity, in 2009 Yorke reworked the original arrangement into a 2009 electronic solo piecethen played live versions with two different bands: first Atoms for Peaceand now with the Smile. Wherever it comes from, “Bodies Laughing” is a killer, straddling a muted Greenwood bass motif and expanding into jumbled territory with Yorke’s sustained guitar solo (played over what appears to be O’Brien’s signature model).

First performance: May 20, 2022
Most recent performances: July 20, 2022
Total performance (so far): 28

“Colors Fly”

A sort of spiritual cousin of Attention deep cut “A Hairdryer”, “Colours Fly” strikes a hypnotic happy medium between Krautrock, jazz-fusion and raga rock. Yorke opens the track unaccompanied, building a mantra-like drone with his voice echoing (“You can change your mind”) before the band enters and the time signatures become complex. This one is mostly about the instrumental dynamics, the way Yorke’s punchy bass plays over Greenwood’s pinprick electric guitars and Skinner’s relentless drumming.

First performance: July 7, 2022
Most Recent Performances: July 20, 2022
Total performance (so far): 18

“Bending Hectic”

When it debuted in July at the Montreux Jazz Festival, “Bending Hectic” was so fresh that Yorke had just put the finishing touches that night: “Yeah, I can see the lyrics,” he said on stage. “It’s good because I just wrote them about half an hour ago.” The lyrics, however, are secondary to the mood: a slow, headphone-friendly build, Greenwood’s massive, reverberant strings to a shoegaze-y climax filled with violent guitar solos and Yorke’s supple falsetto.

First performance: July 12, 2022
Most Recent Performances: July 20, 2022
Total performance (so far): 6

“Under Our Pillows”

“Under Our Pillows” opens with a choppy, delayed guitar figure similar to Attention‘s “Thin Thing”, and the first third unfolds almost like a sequel to this gnarly track. But the piece opens up in its mid-section, the mood shifting to slow-motion atmosphere with Yorke’s shimmering keyboards. Then the biggest surprise comes at the end, with the leader hammering out a heavy stoner-rock riff. There’s a palpable release here – the arrangement feels open and exploratory as if they’re working on the sequence in real time.

First performance: July 14, 2022
Most Recent Performances: July 15, 2022
Total performance (so far): 2

“It” (or “It/Flangers”)

Yorke playfully performed “It” (or, according to the set list, “It/Flangers”) during a show in Taormina, Italy, laughing and speaking in that country’s native tongue. (Does anyone want to translate?) The next song might be the Smile’s heaviest: Greenwood’s woozy, retarded riff; Yorke’s downright dirty fuzz bass; and Skinner swaggers behind the kit as he navigates the rhythmic hiccups. Halfway through, they turn to grinding Krautrock, a platform for some experimental guitar theater. Fingers crossed they keep this one – it’s a monster.

First performance: July 20, 2022
Most Recent Performances: July 20, 2022
Total performance (so far): 1

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